Denarius (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Venus

A work made of silver.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of silver.

Date:

47/46 BC, issued by Julius Caesar

Artist:

Roman, minted in Africa

About this artwork

The purpose of the first portrait coins was to identify the ruler. The front side became a mirror of the sovereign’s self-image. The back was often used to communicate the ruler’s accomplishments or intentions. The profile portrait was used because it suited the very shallow depth and limited surface of the coin. The tiny images were carved by engravers into bronze dies, one for the front and another for the back. The coins were then struck, one by one, in a process similar to how modern coins are created today.

Portraits with Divine Ancestors
In place of human ancestors, some rulers substituted real or mythic heroes or even the gods as their
progenitors. Caesar claimed that the goddess Venus, pictured on this coin, was the tribal mother of the Julian dynasty.

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Ancient and Byzantine Art

Artist

Ancient Roman

Title

Denarius (Coin) Depicting the Goddess Venus

Origin

Italy

Date

47 BC–46 BC

Medium

Silver

Dimensions

Diam. 1.9 cm; 3.87 g

Credit Line

Gift of William F. Dunham

Reference Number

1920.2678

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

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